Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
It was forecast, but nevertheless it caught a few people out. The incredible rains that hit Dubrovnik on Sunday caused flash floods all over Dubrovnik, and none more so than the historic Old City core.
With a hundreds of cruise ships in the town and thousands of tourists the Old City centre was awash with guests, and in a relatively short period of time it was awash with flood water. Dubrovnik resembled another stop on the cruise ships normal route – Venice.
According to data from the Croatian Meteorological Service 55.4 mm of rain fell on Sunday. This is more in one day than the average for the whole month of July in Dubrovnik, the average normal rainfall for the whole month is normally 32.5 mm.
“We consider that the drinking water purifiers in Komolac are in operation and that they have passed their first test,” commented the President of the Board of the city’s public water company.
The torrential rains and storms that hit the Dubrovnik region over the weekend, and especially on Sunday, brought with them a huge about of water causing flash floods in the city. Whereas these rains only really lasted for a day and a half they at least gave the new water purifying system a chance to operate. And it would seem that they passed with flying colours, and that the drinking water system was uncontaminated by flood water.
“Indeed, I am convinced that it has achieved its function, but we can only expect real testing of the system when the rains come in the autumn and when they fall heaviely over a longer period,” added Luksa Matusic.
“We just have to wait for the first big downpour so that we can get a clearer picture on how the whole system functions,” he concluded.
When it rains in Dubrovnik it really rains! Summer storms aren’t that rare, in fact in recent times they are more and more frequent.
The heavens opened yesterday and within a few minutes completely flooded the Old City and much of the rest of the city. The flash floods had emergency services on full alert all day with the Dubrovnik Fire Brigade reporting numerous interventions to pump out homes and shops.
These heavy storms and torrential rains aren’t unusual in Dubrovnik, in fact on an annual basis Dubrovnik receives more rain than London, and yes it all tends to fall over a short, sharp period.
Tourists in Dubrovnik normally enjoying a paddle in the Adriatic, but a paddle along the Stradun is probably something they will remember for a long time.
The former resort of Kupari is still waiting for a brighter future, as it appears that the investor is moving slower than expected, but in the meantime the landscape and the abandoned resort is proving a haven for campers, or rather “wild camping.”
Even though camping in Croatia outside of designated camp sites is actually illegal it doesn’t stop hundreds of campers using the former resort of Kupari every summer. According to the law, camping outside legal campsites is forbidden and you can be penalised for it – currently anyone caught passing a night or two in a vehicle or tent in unregulated and free-from-charge locations, can be fined up to 3,000 Kuna.
This latest camper seems to have at least made an effort to blend in to the surroundings. Parked, or rather camped, in front of the destroyed Hotel Grand in Kupari this camouflaged van brought back memories or a darker chapter in Dubrovnik’s history.
The premiere of Hamlet as part of the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival had a rather special VIP guest in the audience. The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, as well as the Minister of Culture both attended the opening night of Shakespeare’s classic in the Lovrijanc Fortress last night.
Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Paolo Magelli, opened the premiere drama program of jubilee 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Hamlet returned to Lovrjenac after nearly ten years after the last production and this is the thirteenth time that is has been performed in this stunning Dubrovnik fortress.
The first Hamlet on Lovrjenac took place in 1952, and over the years some famous names have appeared in Dubrovnik including Derek Jacobi, Daniel Day-Lewis and Goran Visnjic.
Croatia Airlines could well have a new owner by 2020. The privatisation process of Croatia’s national airline has begun with the Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, commenting that "The company's privatisation process should be completed by the end of the year, and I firmly believe that we will be able to deliver within the set timeframe.”
The privatisation process of Croatia Airlines will happen in three stages, selecting advisors, creating a future business model and finally the actual change of ownership. The first step has already been completed with the German DVB Bank and Privredna Bank Zagreb chosen as the pair of financial institutions to act as advisors. And the final two stages are to be finished by the end of this year.
The airlines have recently reported that they expect a growth in passenger number of 5 percent this year, but that they are also not planning any new routes for next season until the privatisation process has been finalized.
The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, and the Director of the Dubrovnik General Hospital, Marijo Bekić, have signed a contract for the donation amounting to 2.15 million Kuna for the reconstruction of the hospital’s IT system. The financial resources will be provided from the budget of the City of Dubrovnik.
“Today is the second contract signing in the last 10 days with the General Hospital of Dubrovnik. This initiative of the City of Dubrovnik started two years ago with the donation of funds to increase the quality of the General Hospital of Dubrovnik, but also to increase the quality of service provided to all citizens of Dubrovnik. Significant funds are being allocated to raise the quality of health care for all our citizens, and we will continue to donate in the future,” commented Mayor Frankovic.
Director Bekić stressed that the Dubrovnik General Hospital at the beginning of the millennium was the first and only in the Republic of Croatia to be a so called "non-paper hospital", but over time the system has not been upgraded and this has created many problems over the past two years, which is why they started with the process of reconstruction of the system in a project worth 3.4 million Kuna.
“I thank for the donation, the understanding and the partnership that continues between the General Hospital of Dubrovnik and the City of Dubrovnik,” added Bekić.
Croatia’s inevitable path towards complete European Union integration has taken another step forward with news that entry into Schengen passport-free zone. According to reports in the Croatian newspaper, Vecernji List, Croatia has received unofficial information from the European Commission that it has met all technical requirements for accession to the Schengen area.
Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, is a strong supporter of the EU and is taking Croatia into deeper integration in all levels. He has even set his government a target of meeting all conditions and actually joining the Schengen border-free area by 2020. And next year marks another chapter in Croatia’s European future as the country will assume the control of the rotating six-month presidency of the EU.
Current Schengen zone - Photo Wikipedia
Parallel to entering the Schengen zone the Croatia government pushing hard to adopt the Euro as the official currency and ditch the Kuna. And whilst handing over the fiscal control of the country to the EU might, in the eyes of many experts, not be such a bad step, it looks like it will also happen without the people being able to decide with a referendum. Plenkovic has clearly stated that the people have already had their say on the fate of the Kuna when they voted in a public referendum in January 2012 to join the EU. And all the signs are that Croatia is pushing hard to adopt the Euro by 2023.
All of the member states of the European Union now need to agree on Croatia’s Schengen entry, with the Council of the EU expected to vote in the second half of September.
But entry is far from a forgone conclusion. Slovenia has already indicated that it will bring up unresolved border issues and could block the Schengen path. And just reaching all the conditions clearly doesn’t guarantee entry. Both Romania and Bulgaria completed all conditions in June 2011, but both have been blocked entry with several EU members raising concerns over corruption and organised crime in both Eastern EU members.